248-249. Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye Vol. 1 & 2

Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye series by Colleen AF Venable. Illustrated by Stephanie Yue.

Age: 7-11

Publisher: Graphic Universe

Reason for Reading: Both books 1 & 2 are Cybils '10 nominees and as a panelist for Graphic Novels they are required reading for me.

248. #1. Hamster and Cheese. Apr 2010. 48 pgs. This is absolutely adorable! The artwork is so cute and the animals have such personalities it was a joy to read. Elementaries are going to love this series. Sasspants PI inadvertently gets mistaken for a detective and the hamsters call on him to solve the case of the missing sandwiches. Every day the owner puts a sandwich near the hamster cage for his lunch and every day it disappears. He has said if it happens one more time he is going to get rid of them once and for all. Only the hamsters don't know what is happening as they can't stay awake and Sasspants takes the case to get the annoying hamster off his back. The owner is somewhat addlepated, having labeled the animal cages with all the wrong names: the hamsters are koalas, the mice are walruses, the chinchillas are camels and so on. But what really makes this so entertaining are the personalities of the animals. Sasspants is a reader who wants to be left alone, a take charge guy just to get everyone off his case. The goldfish are my favourite with their short term memories, they can hardly remember each others names long enough let alone have an intelligent conversation. Then the hamsters who spend most of their time sleeping except the one who has befriended Detective Pants and thinks they have become best buddies, though he does have a tendency to fall asleep frequently and also believes he may still be a koala like the sign says. The last pages include an article on a non-fiction topic relevant to the story, this time explaining how a snake can eat something four times the size of its mouth and a last page telling the differences between what the owner labeled the animals and what they really are. Adorable! 5/5

249. #2. And Then There Were Gnomes. Aug 2010. 48 pgs. - This second story is almost as fun and cute as the first one and it does clear up some information for us. References to book 1 are mentioned so it is best to read them in order. The little hamster, Hamish, whose name is consistently referenced this time around is dying for another mystery for Sasspants to solve and for him to be her trusted sidekick. Only problem is he is driving 'Pants crazy by inventing mysteries all week, his latest one being to get all the hamsters to hide so he can claim they are all missing. Then the mice start to really disappear one by one and it takes some convincing to make Sasspants realize Hamish isn't crying wolf again.

Once again it is the personalities that win the read over which specifically focuses on Hamish and Sasspants this time though all the others do get some page time, including my favourite, the goldfish. It is also made clear in this volume that Sasspants is a girl. Halfway through the book she is called "she" and from that point on the words "she" and "her" are used frequently. I had mistakenly taken her for a boy in the first book, but as far as I can remember no mention of her female status was mentioned. Poor Mr. V. the owner has some children in to buy a pet, and they tell him his signs are all wrong thinking it's a big joke when he tells them walruses make nice pets, meaning mice, and when he asks the children what they are really called they jokingly answer alligators and the next day he relabels some of the animal cages with some more funny names. The last pages include an article on a non-fiction topic relevant to the story, this time explaining how mice can get through walls and a last page telling the differences between what Mr. V. re-labeled the animals and what they really are. A delightful comic series that I think will appeal to many ages for its sheer humour, which manages to hit several levels from young to older. 4/5


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